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Foodtech startup EVO Foods — which produces ‘clean’ liquid egg replacers — has raised $850,000 (or Rs 6 crore) in its pre-seed round to be deployed for its India market launch as well as to scale its R&D and marketing team and expand in the plant-based egg category ahead of its planned overseas launch next year.

Evo Foods, egg replacer

Evo Foods Co-founders Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali with the plant-based egg startup’s liquid egg replacer

“Our goal is to get Evo into every continent within the next five years. In a couple of years, we want to see Evo from a local kirana shop in Pauni, a small town in India where I am originally from, to a Michelin starred restaurant in New York City. We are thrilled to have the support of such a stellar group of believers and investors in our vision,” says Kartik Dixit, Founder and CEO of Evo.

Through the plant-based egg startup’s pre-seed round — touted to be one of the largest-ever to be raised by an early-stage Indian startup — Evo Foods has onboarded prominent names in the Indian and global startup ecosystems as new investors.

They include Shaun Neff, branding genius, investor, and co-founder of Beach House, vegan investor Ryan Bethencourt’s micro-VC fund Sustainable Food VenturesAnil Advani of Inventus Law, Vaibhav Domkundwar of Better Capital, vegan investor Michiel Van Deursen of Capital V, as well as Sweden-based Kale United, Los Angeles-based Seven Hound VenturesHearthstone Investments, and members of the US-based Glasswall syndicate.

“The alternative sector is booming everywhere in the whole world. With a passionate team, amazing advisors, and a superb product, Evo is on a path to become a leading alternative protein brand, not only in India but also in the world,” says Shaun Neff, as he joins Evo’s advisory board, which includes Dr. Joseph Puglisi, who previously served as Advisor to Beyond Meat, Ryan Bethencourt of Wild Earth and SFV, and Stephanie Downs of Material Innovation Initiative.

Evo Foods

“I had put a personal cheque before in Evo, and we are now glad to fuel this passionate team again through Sustainable Food Ventures as they launch and create the largest clean protein company of India and consequently, the world,” adds Ryan.

Apart from Ryan, the other previous investors of Evo Foods — which was part of Big Idea Ventures New York City accelerator — include New York-based VegInvest and cell-based clean meat company Shiok Meats Founder Dr. Sandhya Sriram.

Founded in 2019 by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali, Evo Foods is on a mission to disrupt the $200 billion egg industry with its plant-based liquid egg and bring the alternative protein revolution to India. To be clear, the plant-based egg category is estimated to become the fastest-growing category in the alternative protein sector with a market value of $1.3 billion by 2023.

“As a vegetarian and a proponent of sustainable and clean eating, I saw this huge market gap and demand in the plant-based protein sector. Today, the plant-based revolution is just beginning in India and we want to be at the forefront of this movement by offering the most delicious alternative protein foods ever,” says Shraddha Bhansali, COO and Co-founder of Evo Foods.

Evo Foods, plant-based egg startup

Evo intends to launch its plant-based liquid egg replacer via Foodservice and has already partnered with multiple restaurants across India to launch it as a part of their menu in the second quarter. The startup is also in discussions with multiple big QSR chains for a launch by the end of this year and plans to launch in the overseas markets by 2022.

Evo’s plant-based liquid egg is made using the startup’s proprietary patent-pending technology coupled with Indian indigenous ingredients such as moong beans and peas. It is high in clean plant-based protein and is both cholesterol- and antibiotic-free. It also contains a superior amino acid profile along with micronutrients such as Vitamin D, A, and B12.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is among nine institutions chosen to collaborate with Big Idea Ventures to help develop and commercialize new, sustainable food products and agricultural innovation that will fuel economic development in rural communities, the New York City-based venture capital firm announced Apr. 13.

In January, Big Idea Ventures launched the Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) fund, a $125 million target fund that aims to accelerate the commercialization of groundbreaking, university-developed intellectual property involving “the new food space.” North Carolina State was the initial collaborator.

In addition to UMass Amherst, the other new collaborators are: Louisiana State University, Oregon State University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Tufts University, University of Hawai’i, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

“We’re honored to welcome these universities to the GFRP consortium,” says Tom Mastrobuoni, chief investment officer for Big Idea Ventures. “The research being conducted at each of these institutions spans our three areas of focus: food, protein, and agriculture innovation. Our team is excited to start building new companies based on technology being developed by some of the world’s best and brightest.”

The UMass Amherst collaborators will be researchers in the College of Natural Sciences food science department—a world-renowned program that is ranked No. 1 in the US, according to the 2020 Global Ranking of Academic Subjects and prior rankings.

The department, which has the oldest academic food science program in the country, features internationally recognized faculty members, including three food scientists consistently named among the world’s most highly cited researchers.

“Big Idea Ventures is a good match for us,” says David Sela, associate professor of food science and director of the Fergus M. Clydesdale Center for Foods for Health and Wellness. “We’re into sustainability; we’re into innovation; we’re into real-world solutions; and that’s where our interests align.”

The center brings together scientists, educators, government policy makers and industry executives from around the globe to identify solutions to food-related health issues.

Some of the research focuses on the solubility, stability, color, and other properties of plant-based protein.

“We’re looking to understand the structure of these food products so we can make them tastier and more economically beneficial for the consumer, as well as provide an option for folks looking to optimize their health and performance,” Sela says.

Another major research theme in the center involves the impact of new food products on the human microbiome. “We’re looking at how these plant-based proteins are cycled in our microbiomes, how they are able to utilize that source of nitrogen that impacts our physiology, our health and wellness, and ultimately our homeostasis,” Sela says. “We’re so used to looking at things in context of meat, but now we have to take a look at what’s going on with these plant-based meat substitutes. Do we see the same sorts of impacts to our nutrition through the microbiome?”

Big Idea Ventures will open “venture centers” to work with the universities to identify and evaluate new developments with the strongest commercialization potential, and the fund will then invest in new companies formed around the groundbreaking research. These new companies will be headquartered in rural communities near the collaborating universities.

“We believe GFRP will drive additional research and encourage entrepreneurs to establish their companies near our venture centers in rural America,” Mastrobuoni says. “Food traditionally comes from rural communities and this is one way to help those communities grow economically.”

Sela says the GFRP collaboration will speed new discoveries to the marketplace by supporting research and funding start-up companies. “We’re looking forward to innovating with them over the course of what we do in our laboratories,” he says. “At the end of the day, we want to see that in the marketplace, and this will enable us to get there.”

– This press release was originally published on the University of Massachusetts Amherst News & Media Relations website. It has been edited for style

Food tech investment firm Big Idea Ventures (BIV) this week unveiled the companies chosen for Cohort 3 of its alt-protein-focused accelerator program. Fifteen early-stage startups will participate in the five-month-long program, either in NYC or Singapore, according to a press release sent to The Spoon.

BIV looks for companies developing both plant-based and cultured protein products and ingredients. Food tech companies related to the alt-protein space are also considered. Past program participants include companies from the plant-based protein space, cultured protein, and corresponding technologies. Evo, MeliBio, and WTH Foods have all taken part in the program.

BIV says its third cohort is focused on sustainably feeding a growing world population.To that end, chosen companies include:

NYC Program:

  • AquaCultured Foods: A seafood alternative using microbial fermentation
  • The Frauxmagerie: A plant-based cheese using cultures without dairy
  • Innocent Meat: A B2B cell-based meat production system
  • incrEDIBLE: An edible cutlery to reduce single-use plastics
  • Blue Ridge Bantam: A cell-based ground and whole-cut turkey
  • New Breed Meats: Plant-based burgers, grounds and sausages
  • Plant Ranch: Plant-based Mexican meats

Singapore Program:

  • Angie’s Tempeh: Tempeh fermentation technology to create protein-rich foods
  • Animal Alternative Technologies: Cell-based meat services including bioreactors and software
  • Farmsow: A B2B ingredients company developing sustainable alternatives to tropical oils and animal fats
  • GreenGourmet Foods: Plant-based dairy
  • Haofood: Alternative chicken protein from peanut focused on the Asian market
  • MAD Foods: A plant-based beverage

Two companies — plant-based yogurt maker Wellme and a food tech startup called Meat. The End — will participate in both NYC and Singapore.

Beside $125,000 in cash investment and $75,000 on in-kind investment, chosen companies also get access to co-working space, including test kitchens, for the duration of the program, as well as mentorship and networking opportunities.

BIV is also currently taking applications for Cohort IV, which will take place during summer 2021. Applications are taken on a rolling basis.


Food tech accelerator and investor Big Idea Ventures (BIV) has recently welcomed its third cohort of disruptive startups to join its programs in New York and Singapore. Laser focused on addressing some of the most critical challenges in our global food system and protein supply chain, these startups are tapping novel plant-based, cell-based and fermentation technologies to develop innovative solutions. Without further ado, let’s take a look at the fifteen food techs taking on everything from cultured whole-cut turkey to plant-based cheese and vegan-friendly microbial fermentation seafood.

Startups joining the Singapore accelerator 

1. Angie’s Tempeh

Source: Angie’s Tempeh

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Angeline Leong & Andrew Goh

Headquarters: Singapore

Angie’s Tempeh is the first Asia-Pacific startup dedicated to using tempeh fermentation technology to create minimally-processed protein-rich foods. They are modernising traditional tempeh making by automating the process, and are selling their range of tempeh and tempeh-based Asian ready meals like dim sum and bak kwa via both retail, direct-to-consumer and foodservice channels.

2. Animal Alternative Technologies

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Clarisse Beurrier & Yash Mishra

Headquarters: Cambridge, United Kingdom

Animal Alternative Technologies (AAT) is a spin-off from the University of Cambridge and is focused on developing a scalable platform for cell-based meat services, including bioreactors, optimisation software, tissue engineering and analytics. Called Renaissance Farm, the automated AI-driven platform is designed to enable large-scale cultured meat production commercially viable for food manufacturers, restaurant chains, retailers and governments.

3. GreenGourmet Foods

Founding date: 2020

Founder: Dr. Ritu Chhatwal

Headquarters: Singapore

GreenGourmet Foods is a Singapore-based restorative food startup that is leveraging bio-enriched indigenous ingredients to recreate nutritious Asian dairy alternative products. Their first product is a vegan-friendly replacement for traditional Indian dahi, a plain yoghurt, which will be made from ancient grains. Called “Jogut”, it will also be high in protein and gut-friendly microbiota. Other products the company is developing include alternatives for lassi, makhan butter and kulfi ice cream.

4. Haofood

Source: Haofood

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Astrid Prajogo, Professor Shaowei Liu, Jenny Zhu & Kasih Chen

Headquarters: Shanghai, China

Haofood is among the world’s first startups to develop plant-based chicken and other meat alternatives with peanut protein as its primary ingredient. Their first product is a fried plant-based chicken, developed specifically for familiar Asian dishes, such as Chinese street food style fried chicken, chicken katsu and Indonesian specialty ayam geprek. Their ultimate goal is to help flexitarians swap out meat without needing to sacrifice the foods they love. It has recently launched its product at restaurants across Shanghai.

5. MAD Foods

Source: MAD Foods

Founding date: 2019

Founders: Angelique Teo & Bobby Randhawa

Headquarters: Singapore

MAD Foods is a plant-based beverage startup creating functional, nutritious drinks. Their current product line-up includes three vegan-friendly oat milk-based coffees, which they plan to make available in multiple channels including supermarkets, corporate offices, educational institutions, co-working spaces and via e-commerce. Currently sold in Singapore, the startup is aiming to take their plant-based functional beverages to China, Australia and New Zealand as well.

6. Farmsow

Founding date: 2020

Founder: Nitya Amarnath, Parth Suthar & Ankit Ratna

Headquarters: North America

Farmsow, a business-to-business ingredients company that is developing sustainable alternatives to tropical oils and animal fats.

Startups joining the New York BIV accelerator

7. AquaCultured Foods

Source: AquaCultured Foods

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Anne Palermo & Brittany Chibe

Headquarters: Chicago, Illinois, United States

AquaCultured Foods is a startup developing whole-muscle seafood alternatives using microbial fermentation. Their product is vegan-friendly, free from the top eight allergens, sustainable and inexpensive to manufacture, and is targeting a B2B client base by supplying fast-casual restaurants and QSR chains with its seafood alternatives.

8. The Frauxmagerie

Source: The Frauxmagerie

Founding date: 2017

Founder: Marie-Catherine Marsot

Headquarters: Meaford, Ontario, Canada

The Frauxmagerie is a plant-based startup using bacterial cultures to develop its artisanal dairy-free cheese alternatives. Applying the same traditional aging process and cheesemaking techniques to make their vegan and gluten-free range, the startup’s high-end vegan cheeses bear a similar taste, structure and appearance to real cheese wheels. Currently, the brand’s products are sold across stores in the U.S. and Canada, and is looking to expand to the European market.

9. Innocent Meat

Source: Innocent Meat

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Laura Gertenbach & Patrick Nonnenmacher

Headquarters: Rostock, Germany

Innocent Meat is a German B2B cell-based meat startup offering an end-to-end automated production system for meat companies that want to make the sustainable switch. Their platform makes it easy for animal meat processing companies to opt for a cost-efficient and sustainable way of making meat without having to invest huge sums in R&D, training and technology. So far, the firm has already signed agreements with two major German meat processors and is now in the process of developing animal-free growth factors.

10. IncrEDIBLE

Source: IncrEDIBLE

Founding date: 2018

Founders: Dinesh Tadepalli, Sudheshna Vuppala, Kruvil Patel

Headquarters: California, United States

IncrEDIBLE is a startup with a zero-waste solution to single-use cutlery. It has created vegan-friendly edible spoons, made from non-GMO grains, which can maintain its shape and form in hot foods for up to 30 minutes. Coming in both sweet and savoury flavours, their spoons are currently sold across the U.S. through B2B and B2C channels, including on Amazon and Shopify.

11. Blue Ridge Bantam

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Carson Bone & Khanh Nguyen

Headquarters: Durham, North Carolina, United States

Blue Ridge Bantam is a cultured meat firm developing the most “original” animal protein in the U.S. – turkey breast. The food tech’s core platform is built around avian muscle and fat cells and aims to compete in retail, foodservice and B2B markets. In addition to developing whole-cut turkey meat, the startup plans to offer other avian meats such as cell-based chicken, duck, pheasant and quail.

12. New Breed Meats

Source: New Breed Meats

Founding date: 2018

Founders: Samantha Edwards & Rochelle Mekowulu

Headquarters: Lexington, Kentucky, United States

New Breed Meats is the first Black woman-owned startup making plant-based burgers, grounds and sausages that are both delicious and nutritious. Their strategy is to target the fast-growing market of African Americans, offering their first product, a plant-based burger that contains 75% less saturated fat than its competitors, through popular foodservice chains in the U.S. As an impact-driven food tech, New Breed aims to use its profits to fund educational programs and community gardens for underserved communities.

13. Plant Ranch

Source: Plant Ranch

Founding date: 2016

Founders: Gary Huerta, Carmen Santillan, Mike Simms

Headquarters: California, United States

Plant Ranch is a food tech that has developed a range of plant-based alternatives to authentic Mexican meats, which are currently available in retail, foodservice and online platforms in the U.S. nationwide. Currently, the startup is in the process of scaling-up production through a co-manufacturing model to meet rising demand.

Startups joining the hybrid Singapore-New York program 

14. Wellme

Founding date: 2021

Founders: Yong Liang, Dr. Jin Zhou, Dr. Hang Xiao, Sujuan Zhao

Headquarters: Shanghai, China

Wellme is the food tech behind the plant-based yoghurt brand Berrywell, which contains healthy microbiotics to support gut health. In addition to containing a proprietary blend of probiotics and prebiotics, the vegan-friendly yoghurt alternative is also high in fibre. The company plans to launch its product via e-commerce before launching in retail.

15. Meat. The End

Founding date: 2020

Founders: Dr. Yishai Mishor, Moshe Nesher, David Bensal, Beny Striem

Headquarters: Tel Aviv, Israel

Meat. The End is a plant-based startup using new production techniques to develop meat alternatives that can realistically mimic the mouthfeel and taste of its animal counterparts. Their technology overcomes the “spongy” or “gummy” texture that consumers often associate with existing plant-based meats on the market. Meat. The End will license their patented platform to other plant-based meat alternative producers.

From a company creating whole muscle seafood through fermentation to one working on edible cutlery to reduce waste, BIV’s third cohort is focused on sustainably feeding a growing world population. These entrepreneurs are looking to tap into growing market opportunities across the alternative protein landscape.

The 15 companies in the third cohort include:

New York Accelerator

• AquaCultured Foods — seafood alternative using microbial fermentation
• The Frauxmagerie — plant-based cheese using cultures without dairy
• Innocent Meat — B2B cell-based meat production system
• incrEDIBLE — edible cutlery to reduce single-use plastics


• Blue Ridge Bantam — Cell-based ground & whole-cut turkey
• New Breed Meats — plant-based burgers, grounds & sausages that beat competitors’ on nutrition and taste
• Plant Ranch — authentic plant-based Mexican meats

Singapore Accelerator

• Angie’s Tempeh — tempeh fermentation technology to create protein-rich foods
• Animal Alternative Technologies — cell-based meat services including bioreactors and software
• [Stealth Mode] — novel food ingredients with micro biorefinery
• GreenGourmet Foods — plant-based dairy
• Haofood — alternative chicken protein from peanut focused on the Asian market

Pawon - Sate Ayam Haofood

• MAD Foods — plant-based beverage

Hybrid Accelerator (participants in both Singapore and New York)

• Wellme — plant-based yogurt
• Meat. The End — production technique to replicate meat-like mouthfeel and taste

Over a five-month period, BIV works side by side with each company to help prepare them for growth and scale, alongside mentors, advisors and investors. Industry connections are made so that each company can make sure its products are prepared to scale.

Big Idea Ventures (BIV), a startup accelerator in Singapore and New York, has announced the launch of its third cohort, which features 15 early-stage startups working in plant-based and cell-based industries.

Under the five-month program, the startup accelerator will connect the participating firms to mentors, advisors, and investors who will review their businesses and do consultations with them.

BIV is focused on the alternative protein industry with its New Protein Fund, and on developments in the food industry that can solve challenges in waste, water use, plastic use, and carbon dioxide emission with its Generation Food Fund.

Here are the startups in its Singapore accelerator:

  • Angie’s Tempeh, a foodtech firm that uses fermentation technology to create protein-rich tempeh with minimal ingredients. The company automates many of the menial processes involved in food production, which are then sold on ecommerce channels, restaurants, and supermarkets.
  • Animal Alternative Technologies, a company that provides cell-based meat services including bioreactors and software. Through its platform, it helps food producers make their own cultured meat at commercial scale and tailored to local tastes, along with required specifications.
  • Farmsow, a business-to-business ingredients company that is developing sustainable alternatives to tropical oils and animal fats.
  • GreenGourmet Foods, a plant-based dairy firm targeting millennials and Gen Z consumers that uses bio-enriched and sustainable indigenous ingredients to create nutrition-rich products.
  • Haofood, a food science startup from Shanghai that produces alternative chicken protein from peanuts.
  • Mad Foods, a startup that creates plant-based beverages using premium flavors and ingredients. The company claims it has the capability to retail its products via 1000 doors within 12 months, and is currently consolidating a global waitlist of stores.

Meanwhile, here are startups from the hybrid accelerator, with participants coming from Singapore and New York:

  • Wellme, a foodtech startup that produces plant-based yogurt rich in dietary fiber, prebiotics, and a variety of probiotics to support and balance intestinal flora.
  • Meat The End,  a business-to-business company developing production techniques and recipes to transform the texture of plant proteins for plant-based meats to have a more realistic meat-like mouthfeel.

Finally, here are startups from the New York accelerator:

  • AquaCultured Foods, a plant-based meat technology firm that uses microbial fermentation to provide an alternative to seafood.
  • The Frauxmagerie, an alternative dairy company that uses cashews and a vegan probiotic in the fermentation process to create an alternative to dairy-based cheese.
  • Innocent Meat, a B2B cell-based meat production system that aims to become a vertically integrated technology provider for clean meat production, starting from cell lines and plant-based growth factor to AI-driven manufacturing technology.
  • IncrEdible, an edible cutlery maker that produces vegan spoons made of non-genetically modified grains in an attempt to reduce the use of single-use cutlery by 2025.
  • Blue Ridge Bantam, a cultured meat company focused on cell-based ground and whole-cut turkey. It aims to compete in the B2B wholesale space by marketing turkey breast and rendered fat to plant-based companies as an “animal-free” flavor component.
  • New Breed Meats, a plant-based technology firm that offers burgers, ground meat, and sausages made with fewer ingredients. It also claims that its products have up to 75% less saturated fat than those of leading brands in the market.
  • Plant Ranch, a plant-based Mexican meat producer that relies on co-manufacturing so it could focus on selling and marketing its product. It will also develop a broader product offering that will feature authentic flavors in the Mexican food category, among others.

“All of these companies are addressing real-world challenges and represent some of the most promising innovations in the food and agriculture sectors,” said Andrew Ive, founder and general managing partner of Big Idea Ventures.

As healthy eating habits take off rapidly across Asia, several startups in The Arts category on this year’s 30 Under 30 list are seeking to capitalize on the trend by bringing alternative protein-based food to consumers in metropolises from Seoul to Shanghai.

Take, for example, China’s Hong Chichi. Pork has long been a staple of the Chinese diet, but to Hong it’s high time for a change. Less than a year after launching in Shanghai, Hong’s plant-based meat startup Hey Maet has already found a niche among young, health-conscious urban consumers with products like dumplings and steamed buns that use proteins from rice and soybeans. Hong, 26, won’t disclose sales figures but predicts 500% revenue growth this year. “China could be faster than the West to accept plant-based meat,” she says. “I hope to promote such products to mass-market consumers in the next three years.”

“China could be faster than the West to accept plant-based meat.”

Hong Chichi, founder of Hey Maet

Hong has ample reason to be optimistic. African swine fever has wiped out roughly half of China’s hog population since surfacing in 2018, causing a shortage of supplies and sparking food-security concerns. Meanwhile, consumers in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are increasingly willing to pay more for safer, protein-rich food produced in an environmentally friendly way, according to Jason Yu, Shanghai-based general manager of consultancy Kantar Worldpanel. China’s market for meat substitutes stood at $11 billion last year, up 35% growth from $8 billion in 2015. Consultancy Euromonitor International projects that it will grow another 30% by 2025, to $14 billion.

Hey Maet isn’t Hong’s first venture. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Canada’s Simon Fraser University, Hong got a job as an investor in the Silicon Valley office of Hong Kong-based venture capital firm Ausvic Capital. She spent the next two years investing in startups developing everything from artificial intelligence to consumer goods.

But the urge to start her own business gradually took over. A vegetarian for ten years, Hong in 2019 set her sights on developing plant-based meat. Interest in China was still limited to a small group of avant-garde consumers, but the successful listing of Beyond Meat had triggered a hunt by local investors for a China-based alternative.

Hong’s first foray was with Zhen Meat, a venture she cofounded in Beijing in 2019. Differences with her cofounders over R&D and strategy prompted her to leave, however, tapping her own connections to cobble together a team of food scientists and launch Hey Maet in April last year. (Maet is an intentional misspelling of “meat” designed to emphasize how the company is helping redefine the foodstuff.)

Hong’s isn’t the only company looking to tap China’s growing taste for meat substitutes. Starbucks, for example, already sells pasta dishes at its China locations made with a beef substitute from Nasdaq-listed plant-based meat company Beyond Meat. Hey Maet is aiming for the local palate: one of its bestsellers is plant-based zongzi—sticky rice dumplings—made with snack company Bai Cao Wei using Hey Maet’s pork substitute for filling. Another recent collaboration is with 7 HongKong Style Cuisine, a restaurant chain established by Hong Kong singer Jordan Chan that sells beef noodles made with Hey Maet’s beef substitute.

“It takes time to cultivate a new consumption habit, but we’ll do more collaborations with other companies and keep exploring.”

Hong Chichi, founder of Hey Maet

Investors can taste the potential. Hong has so far raised an undisclosed amount from Tiantu Capital, UpHonest Capital founder Guo Wei and Shanghai-listed Shuangta Food, among others. The bulk of the proceeds has gone to R&D, as Hong hopes to keep improving the texture and taste of her products.

Hey Maet and its peers face challenges to expansion, says Daisy Li, a Shanghai-based associate director at consultancy Mintel. Foremost among them is that plant-based meat is still often more expensive than meat in China, which puts it off the menu for many cost-conscious diners. Hong says she is working on a mass-market product—possibly a snack. “We are testing our new products step by step,” she says. “It takes time to cultivate a new consumption habit, but we’ll do more collaborations with other companies and keep exploring.”

Vegan Eggs and Crickets

Meanwhile in India, Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali are also capitalizing on the country’s growing market for alternative protein. Their two-year-old Mumbai-based foodtech startup, EVO Foods, produces plant-based egg alternatives made from protein-rich legumes and are cholesterol- and antibiotic-free. Last year, the company received an undisclosed amount of funding from New York-based VegInvest and Sandhya Sriram, CEO of Singaporean cell-based seafood startup Shiok Meats. So far, more than 20 restaurant brands in India use EVO Foods’ eggs.

“India produces over 100 billion eggs per year amounting to widespread antibiotics use, intensive animal breeding and greenhouse gases emissions,” Dixit says. “Being an environmental vegan since four years [ago], I envision that by 2030, humans won’t need to eat anything coming from an animal.”

“Being an environmental vegan since four years [ago], I envision that by 2030, humans won’t need to eat anything coming from an animal.”

Kartik Dixit, cofounder of EVO Foods

Investors have also seen potential in South Korea’s Yongmin Lee and Hyungsu Park foodtech startup Devotionfoods, which makes non-genetically modified plant-based meat alternatives with similar nutritional value, taste, appearance, smell and texture as real meat. So far, it has raised $4.6 million, including $3 million in a series A investment round led by Kakao Investment, backed by Korean messaging app Kakao. Devotionfoods is currently working with Korean conglomerate CJ and retailer GS Retail to expand its business.

Malaysia’s Kevin Wu is another entrepreneur who wants to introduce consumers to alternative protein—this time from insects through his startup Ento. Founded in 2018, Ento farms crickets, which are used to make edible products like roasted crickets and cookies made with cricket powder. Crickets and other insects are high in protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as low in fat. They are also easier and more sustainable to farm than livestock, and produce less waste. The startup graduated from Malaysian conglomerate Sunway’s accelerator program, called Sunway iLabs Super Accelerator, in October.

India’s pioneer plant-based egg company Evo Foods recently closed its pre-seed round and secured INR 6.2 crores (US$845,000) that will help the startup gear up for its launch in the Indian market as well as scale its R&D and marketing team to prepare for an international launch in 2022.

Mumbai-based Evo Foods was founded in 2019 by Kartik Dixit and Shraddha Bhansali, and with the help of biotechnology, plant proteins are obtained from lentils thus creating a 100% vegan egg liquid that is cruelty-free, has zero cholesterol and is antibiotic-free. The liquid egg also contains amino acids and and micronutrients including vitamin D, A, and B12.

In addition to the funding, Evo has welcome new advisors too, with Shaun Neff joining the advisory board along with ex-advisor to Beyond Meat, Dr. Joseph Puglisi, and co-founder of the Material Innovation Initiative (MII) Stephanie Downs. Neff has invested and worked with Robinhood & Target and has unveiled brands featuring Kendall Jenner and Millie Bobbie Brown.

In the past, Evo Foods was supported by investors including veteran vegan founder, Ryan BethencourtVegInvest and founder of Shiok Meats, Dr. Sandhya Sriram.

The round received additional support from Sustainable Food ventures, Michiel Van Deursen at Capital V, Vaibhav Domkundwar at Better Capital, Anil Advani at Inventus Law, Sweden-based Kale United, LA-based Seven Hound ventures, Hearthstone Investments, and members of the U.S.-based Glasswall Syndicate.

Evo Foods has gone from strength to strength since its launch in May 2020, participating in Big Idea Ventures’ New York accelerator last year, chosen as one of the top 5 CPG startups in the FoodBytes by Rabobank program, and selected among the top 12 startups and first ever food company in the Lightspeed Venture partners’ Extreme Entrepreneurs 2021 program.

In a press release seen by Green Queen, co-founder Bhansali said that the team is excited to have a great set of investors. “As a vegetarian and a proponent of sustainable and clean eating, I observed a huge market gap and demand in the plant-based protein sector while handling customers at my restaurant. Our goal is to get Evo into every continent within the next 5 years. We aim to create a non-judgemental food brand of the future that is people, planet, and palate friendly for the better imperfect consumer. The plant-based revolution is just beginning in India and we want to be on the forefront of this movement by offering the most delicious food ever.”

Our goal is to get Evo into every continent within the next 5 years. We aim to create a non-judgemental food brand of the future that is people, planet, and palate friendly for the better imperfect consumer. This is just the beginning of the plant-based revolution in India

Shraddha Bhansali, co-founder of Evo Foods

Deursen from Capital V, said of the round: As an entrepreneur, and early investor in companies like The Vegetarian Butcher, I know the space of alternative proteins very well, and I’ve seen its growth accelerate at an unprecedented rate in the past years. India is a very exciting fast-growing market, and it already has the world’s largest vegetable eating population. I am proud and excited to help Evo grow and offer India and the world a better alternative reducing the need for animal agriculture.”

According to research, the global egg market is worth US$200 billion, with 100 billion eggs produced in 2019 in India alone. With conscious consumers looking for animal-free alternatives, the plant-based egg sector is booming exponentially in the global alternative protein market with this category alone set to reach US$1.3 billion by 2023.

Last month, Evo Foods was awarded by PETA India’s ‘Most Innovative Company’ and the startup’s first public tasting event held in February was over-subscribed within an hour of announcing it.

Going forward, the startup aims to launch its product via Indian foodservice channels and through restaurants in the second quarter of 2021. It is also in talks with several leading QSR chains for an extensive launch at the end of 2021 with plans to debut in the international market.

North Carolina-based biotech startup Jellatech today announces a $2 million pre-seed fundraise to further develop its cell-based, animal-free collagen and gelatin products which have applications in skincare & cosmetics, and medical & pharmaceutical as well as food & beverage.

According to TechCrunch, the global collagen market is expected to reach $7.5 billion by 2027 and the gelatin market is set to hit $6.7 billion over the same period. With conscious consumerism on the rise in the wake of Covid, demand for sustainable, vegan alternatives is increasing globally.


Jellatech is producing real collagen and gelatin through cellular agriculture, as opposed to through the isolation of these parts from meat industry byproducts. The company reports that it has received several inquiries from potential customers and partners keen to obtain early samples, which will be shipping by the end of this month.

Investors in this round include Iron Grey, YellowDog, 7 Hound Ventures, Michiel van Deursen‘s Capital V, Sentient Investments, Bluestein Ventures, Ryan Bethencourt‘s Sustainable Food Ventures and Big Idea Ventures.

“We are excited and proud to have the support of our investors who believe in our company and the future we are building,” says Stephanie Michelsen, Co-founder & CEO. “We know that the demand and the need is there, and now we have the fuel to realize it.

Stephanie Michelsen Jellatech

“This funding and support has enabled us to accelerate the development of our products and we have been able to advance the distribution of our first collagen samples, which is a really exciting thing that our team is very proud of.”

“We know that the demand and the need is there, and now we have the fuel to realize it.”

Current alternatives, such as animal-free collagen peptides and plant-based pectin or agar lack the functionality of native collagen, hence limiting the applications. Jellatech’s collagen is biologically identical to native collagen which makes it a true replacement for animal-derived collagen.

“If you love collagen (whether it’s for gummy bears, supplements, tissue engineering, materials or as other ingredients) and you love animals and the planet, we want to offer an option where you don’t have to choose one or the other. With this $2M fundraise we are one step closer to making that a reality,” enthuses Michelsen.

Grounded Foods Co., a Los Angeles-based startup, has learned how to make cauliflower cheese. Its Cheese Free Cheese, one of three new products, is a vegan cheese sauce made from imperfect cauliflower and hemp seeds.

The two other products include the simply titled Hemp Seed Cream Cheese and Hemp Seed Goat Cheese. According to a press release, the products are also nut-free and soy-free. They’re available to purchase on the website, and will begin rolling out to retail stores starting in May.

The company’s dairy-free cheese sauce stands out, not only in form (It comes packaged in a squeeze-pouch.) but also its ingredients. It’s the only variety to include cauliflower. And, it’s made through a proprietary fermentation process involving koji. If you think you’ve heard of koji before, you might have: it’s the same bacteria used to make miso and soy sauce. It’s also used by Prime Roots, a Berkeley-based startup that makes meat and seafood alternatives.

“Koji is a live bacteria, which serves as a natural way of bolstering the fermentation process. It also reduces the need for added salt in the products,” Veronica Fil, CEO of Grounded Foods, tells LIVEKINDLY.


If you peruse the Grounded Foods Instagram, you’ll find fancy cheeses including Gruyere and Camembert made from cauliflower and hemp. The Camembert has been sold on the online market GTFO It’s Vegan. But Fil says that it may be a while before the company makes artisan cheeses widely available.

Shaun Quade, a self-taught, award-winning chef, is the brand’s one-person R&D department. Fil describes him as “one of those mad genius people who obsessively pour themselves into a project until they perfect it.”

Quade has produced nearly 40 styles of plant-based cheese. These range from soft cheeses to melting cheeses and hard-aged varieties, using hemp and cauliflower. While Fil loves the Camembert and Gruyere, buying the equipment and packaging for the less in-demand styles is where limitations set in.

So, Fil and Quade set on launching vegan cheese sauce, cream cheese, and goat cheese first.

“We figured we’d choose 3 styles to launch with, see how people respond, then go from there. We have a long roadmap of products to roll out next, but as a tiny company, our obstacle is simply cash,” says Fil. The company hopes to complete another fundraising round this year in order to expand its manufacturing capabilities.

Cheese Free Cheese is also nut and soy-free. | Grounded / Eileen W. Cho for LIVEKINDLY


Grounded Foods’ vegan goat cheese also contains an ingredient you might not be familiar with. But, it is actually quite common: glucono delta lactone.

“It’s commonly used in tofu and feta cheese, and being non-animal derived, it made sense for us to use it in the creation of a goat-style cheese that closely replicated dairy,” says Fil. By using it, Grounded Foods was able to eliminate ingredients like modified starches, citric acid, and xanthan gum.

Fil adds that she would ideally have only a four-item ingredient panel. But, taste is critical when it comes to a consumer’s decision to buy—or skip—a vegan product, according to the Good Food Institute.

“So instead of making something that kinda looks and tastes a bit like cheese, our goal is to nail it completelyand initiate a genuine shift in mainstream buying behavior towards plant-based alternatives. In doing so, there’s definitely a tradeoff between flavor, functionality, and the perfect ‘clean label’,” says Fil.

Fil cites the dairy industry’s enormous environmental impact as the driving force behind Grounded Foods. Cheese made from coconut oil, nuts, seeds, or even cauliflower has a considerably lower carbon footprint. And, the market for vegan cheese is growing fast. According to SPINS data released this year, the U.S. vegan cheese category is worth $270 million.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The “Investing in Rural & Heartland America” panel during the Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference will examine how funds dedicated to strategic investment in heartland and rural innovation are overcoming geographic barriers and supporting investors in small markets. The panel session will take place from 12:45-1:35 p.m. on Thursday, April 15.

Registration for the all-virtual Invent Penn State Venture & IP Conference, happening April 15-16, is currently open to the public.

Panelists include:

  • Falon Donohue – partner, Narya: A partner at Narya, an early-stage venture capital firm that invests nationally across a variety of sectors, Donohue is an experienced operator with a diverse background in economic development, executive leadership, and sales and marketing. She also is the founder of Sadie Ventures, a seed-stage venture capital firm, and chairperson at InnovateOhio, a state-led initiative focused on the growth of Ohio’s tech-based economy.
  • Abby Lyall – vice president, Big Idea Ventures: Lyall is a vice president at Big Idea Ventures, a global venture fund solving the world’s biggest problems by backing great entrepreneurs. She focuses on Series A+ investments in companies solving the issues of food waste, plastic pollution, water waste and greenhouse gas emissions, as well as commercializing university IP in the food and agriculture spaces.
  • Lydia McClure – vice president of scientific partnerships, Research Bridge Partners: McClure is the vice president of scientific partnerships for Research Bridge Partners (RBP), which uses proprietary analytic tools to identify promising innovators at heartland universities and translate their innovations into the real economy. Prior to RBP, McClure led the National Science Foundation Innovation Corps (NSF I-Corps) program focused on training technologists to identify market opportunities for technology-based innovations.

Matthew Weinbaum, shareholder at Dentons Cohen & Grigsby, will moderate the event. Weinbaum is an attorney with extensive experience advising investors, companies and executive teams across all stages of the corporate lifecycle, with a specialization in guiding clients through important early-stage transactions that provide foundational and growth capital to emerging companies.

Purdue University has been hand-picked by Big Idea Ventures LLC, a global leader in early-stage food technology and alternative protein investment, for a new fund to commercialize university intellectual property.

The new Generation Food Rural Partners (GFRP) fund is a $125 million target fund that will fuel economic development in rural communities across the United States through the commercialization of food and agricultural technologies, protein innovation and other university intellectual property.

“We are proud to join a select group of universities for this new opportunity focused on commercialization, higher education and rural economies,” said Wade Lange, vice president and chief entrepreneurial officer of the Purdue Research Foundation. “Purdue has a strong network of innovators focused on technologies to provide food and agricultural solutions.”

The new fund is designed to capture universities’ breakthrough technologies that will impact the global food supply chain.

“Indiana’s agbioscience economy generates more than $52 billion in revenue with more than half of that coming from value-added food and nutrition,” said Mitch Frazier, president and chief executive officer of AgriNovus Indiana. “Indiana’s strengths across agbioscience, technology, manufacturing and logistics provide a powerful platform for post-pandemic food supply chain innovation and growth.”

About Purdue Research Foundation

Purdue Research Foundation supports Purdue University’s land-grant mission by helping the university improve the world through its technologies and graduates. Established in 1930, PRF is a private, nonprofit foundation. The foundation helps patent and commercialize Purdue technologies; builds places to encourage innovation, invention, investment, commercialization and entrepreneurship; and makes equity available to students to finance their Purdue education. For more information on licensing a Purdue innovation, contact the Office of Technology Commercialization at For more information about involvement and investment opportunities in startups based on a Purdue innovation, contact the Purdue Foundry at

About Purdue University

Purdue University is a top public research institution developing practical solutions to today’s toughest challenges. Ranked the No. 5 Most Innovative University in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, Purdue delivers world-changing research and out-of-this-world discovery. Committed to hands-on and online, real-world learning, Purdue offers a transformative education to all. Committed to affordability and accessibility, Purdue has frozen tuition and most fees at 2012-13 levels, enabling more students than ever to graduate debt-free. See how Purdue never stops in the persistent pursuit of the next giant leap at

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